Tag Archives: Butterfly Effect

#2 Christopher Nolan – The Prestige

Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer.

~ Norman Mailer
Although not the original poster, it captures the essence of the film perfectly.
The movie is ranked 52nd in the IMDb top 250 list.
This is how I was introduced to Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight –> Inception –> Memento –> Batman Begins –> The Prestige –> Insomnia –> The Dark Knight Rises and I am yet to watch “Following”
The film is an adaptation of Christopher Priest‘s 1995 World Fantasy Award-winning novel of the same name. For a film based on two (?) young magicians, it accommodates more than enough mystery. Right from the cold start of the film there are attempts made to distract you, mislead you and eventually surprise you. Just like a magic trick.
In our worlds we had Tesla and Edison. (Read more about Tesla.) Both men in their own ways managed to “shock” the world. The rivalry of Robert Angier and Alfred Borden does not fail to make us think whether the characters are based on the lives of these two inventors. Of course the plot is completely different but the fight of ideologies is somewhat more than similar.
It is all about obsession. We are often taught that we need to devote our lives to a purpose. But sometimes, a purpose so strong can simply take over the soul of living. One must find the right balance. And here lies the dilemma. Give it too little and it slips away from you. Give it too much and it makes you its servant. There is nothing wrong in either of the ideologies actually. It is all a matter of perspective.
I have written about this earlier that how the bad guys of the film can make you hoot for them. All the characters in the film have something that one can hate them for. Honestly speaking when I started watching the movie I was on Robert Angier’s side. Maybe towards the middle I was forced to switch sides. That is the power of grey characters. The white knights are boring. Grey characters don’t have to be morally right every time. Because right and wrong is the matter of perspective.
The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything. Isn’t this the bottom line of every art form? Let’s talk of film making. We see the end result in theaters. No matter what, every film is at least a little different from what the makers thought it would be. There are so many factors involved in film making that even the flutter of a butterfly can cause a tornado. When we see a film we see the result of many decisions taken at the end moment. Many mistakes turned out as blessings on the edit table. And the secret behind it simply kills the magic. That’s why you don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.
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#1 Robert Zemeckis/ Spielberg* – Back to the future (Part I)

“Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?”

He stared at me, baffled. “Why the fuck would you do that?”

~ Stephen King

The film is ranked 49th in the IMDb top 250 list.

Time is such a vague yet interesting concept. Every great mind of modern times has spent time thinking about “time”. And for me, the Back to the future trilogy remains the best work in this subject.

If we take the time travel part out of the picture, we have a simple premise – a troubled teenager trying to correct a few wrongs in his life. This is what intrigues me! A simple premise embellished with a compelling treatment. Every good film has this feature in common.

I have watched this film so many times by now that I know the film frame by frame. Yet every time I watch it, I get excited when, in Marty’s language he discovers something, “heavy”. I love explaining the intricate details to my younger brother, just the way my dad did to me. It feels like passing on a legacy.

Why is the film so special?

Foreshadowing – a sign or warning about an incident in future

If I am correct, every major event casts foreshadow. The plutonium used in the DeLorean is shown missing on the news in the very first scene. We get an idea that Marty (Michael J. Fox) will not have any plutonium in the car, as Doc (Christopher Lloyd) mentions carrying extra shards during time travel. It is like letting the audience think that they knew it was coming, so that when it actually happens they link it to the former events and as a result recall it. If your foreshadowing succeeds you have an active audience. Nothing works better than an active audience!

The film does not really highlight this theory, but still I feel the makers must have studied it while making.

The Butterfly Effect – Can the flutter of a butterfly in Brazil cause tornado in Texas? Our smallest actions, do they have strong repercussions on the Universe? Wikipedia makes it real boring. I gave a more poetic, simple version.

Lastly, talking about the theme now. Ah, again! Who would not like to go back in past and see the moments when their parents actually fell for each other. I would like to see my father sweeping my mother off her feet. I would love to check how much of it is true and how much is, you know, amplified! I love the film because I can clearly see myself as the protagonist. I always have and I always will. And I am sure I am not the only one to feel so!

* I could not help but enter Spielberg’s name in the title. You have all the ingredients to a good Spielberg film in this one although he did not actually direct it.